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Three Fingers of Formaldehyde for Mary Bach 

How many times have heard the old tale of a farmer going crazy and hacking his family to bits? Well, in the case of farmer Carl Bach of Bowling Green, back in 1883 he decided that his wife Mary just didn’t complete the daily chores the way he wanted her to, so he decided to take a corn knife to her, dismember her body and put the prime cuts into his barn.

But his actions must have weighed heavy on old Carl’s head, for a few days later he decided to turn himself in, and told the local authorities where to find his sliced and diced wife.

The local sheriff went to the barn and discovered the woman’s dismembered body, and decided to take three of Mary’s fingers, put them in a glass of formaldehyde, and take them back as evidence.

Bach was eventually found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. But rather than just your ordinary execution, town officials decided that they would string old Carl up in front of the Wood County Courthouse and hang him on the last day of the county fair, selling tickets for a big slam-bang grand finale.

It was a well-attended event (or so we’ve been told), and Carl Bach did his last song and dance on Oct 13, 1883. It was the last public hanging the county ever held.

Not wanting to let this moment slip through the cracks, the townspeople decided to put a display case inside the courthouse featuring the knife that hacked up Mary Bach, as well as the noose that hanged Carl, a ticket to the execution, and of course the three bloody fingers of Mary in the jar of formaldehyde. In the cabinet the withered fingers are displayed at the bottom left. The liquid has evaporated from the jar. The corn knife used to cut off Mary’s fingers is hanging above and to the right. The rest of the case is filled with trial and personal mementoes, including the bible Carl read from while awaiting execution. For the record, Carl was the second, and last, man hanged in Wood County.

If you’d like to see these gruesome reminders of what might happen if you don’t complete your housework, they are on display in the Wood County Historical Museum on the grounds of the old Wood County infirmary. It was in operation from 1868 until 1971. The museum is actually inside the old infirmary. And get this; in 1885, the "Lunatic House" was added to the property as a place to house the "violently insane". The museum has recently restored the lunatic house and visitors may tour the building.

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